Welcome, Summer Solstice

Tomorrow marks the first official day of summer, and also the longest day here in the Northern Hemisphere. Tomorrow, the sun will rise at 5:11 in the morning, meander across the sky, and not set until 9:10 at night. That’s right: tomorrow, we’ll have a whopping sixteen hours of daylight.

Until moving to the Pacific Northwest, the Summer and Winter Solstices didn’t seem like that big of a deal. As far as I was concerned, the “first day of summer” in NYC was when I could smell garbage in the streets; and twinkle lights all through SoHo were a clear sign that winter had arrived. In that city, I didn’t understand the significance of the solstice.

But out here, the summer days seem dramatically long, and the solstice seems more important. In fact, theย longest day of the year has a full seven and a half hours more daylight than the shortest day in winter. That’s an incredible difference! I’ve come to love the solstices; they are markers of the planet’s mood swings, the high-highs and low-lows that bracket the seasonal year. I think they are worthy of a celebration.

Tomorrow, I’ll wake up at 5 am to drink some coffee and watch the sunrise. I’ll take a second to think about what I love about the summer months, and to be grateful for the warmth, the blue skies, and the inevitable onslaught of mosquito bites and sunburn that I will endure. I will think of all the dinners I’ll enjoy outside, and that wonderful (and equally terrible) feeling when I realize the daylight has tricked me into staying up past my bedtime. I’ll be grateful for the upcoming days of climbing in a sports bra, learning to kayak, and sweating through my t-shirt on a hike. I will make a list of all the activities I said I’d do more of this year: paddling, biking, slack lining. I’ll revel in how light my pack will be for summer backpacking. I’ll remind myself how much I longed for this in the winter time.

I’ll do this, because, inevitably, I will get sick of summer.

In the past, as the days got shorter and the temperatures rose, I’d huff over the heat. I’d complain that I couldn’t climb my projects, due to bad friction on the rock. I’d trade the nights of eating on the patio for nights spent indoors, in front of a fan. I’d start closing the blinds fully when I went to bed, so as to sneak in that extra ten minutes of sleep that I most likely didn’t need. And, inevitably, I’d start to long for fall.

This year, I am hoping to remain present in my appreciation for the summer. If the heat starts to get to me, I am going to revisit tomorrow’s moment, that 5:11am gratitude for the arrival of summer, and invite it back. This year, I will be grateful for summer for as long as she lasts.

However you celebrate the seasons, whatever it is you are looking forward to with warmer weather, take a second to think of it tomorrow. Raise a glass of cheap beer, bite into a watermelon, lift your barbecue tongs in thanks for the oncoming season. Praise the heat waves, embrace the sweat stains, and welcome in the summer.

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